March 1945

They had been the source of loss and frustration to the gunners and pilots of other air forces and squadrons for many weeks. Now it was up to the Moosemen to go up against the Luftwaffe's formidable new fighters. The jet powered Me262. During the month of March No.6 Group would encounter these fast and heavily armed fighters 113 times. Some losses and some victories would occur for the Moosemen during this changing time in air warfare.

419's First Encounters
March 15/16 1945 - Hagen

Fourteen of 419's Lancasters took off in clear weather for Hagen as part of a 270 plus aircraft raid. Nothing is recorded in the Operations Record about the attacks on Moose aircraft by the Me262 jet fighter. A different story is told in the Combat Reports for that night.

1st Attack 21.09 hours F/S A.M. Dennis - F/S B.K. Dwyer KB851

F/S Dennis in the rear turret spotted the Me262 dead astern and slightly above his aircraft, at about 1,000 yards the pilot corkscrewed to starboard. The jet powered Me262 moved in quickly and fired his guns just as Dennis opened up with a medium burst driving off the attacker.
( The two Combat Reports are almost identical in their wording and it is only the times given which show that there was in fact three attacks within a short period of time.)

2nd. Attack 21.14 hours F/S A.M. Dennis - F/S B.K. Dwyer KB851

The second group of attackers was sighted by both gunners, one Me262 was dead astern while the second Me262 was slightly above on the starboard quarter at a range of 1,000 yards. The pilot, F/O Lambroughton corkscrewed to starboard and both jets closed in very quickly and opened fire at about 600 yards. F/S Dennis in the rear turret opened fire on the aircraft coming in on the Lancaster's tail, while F/S Dwyer in the upper turret opened fire on the second jet attacker. The effect of the long bursts towards their aircraft made the the Me262 pilots brake off the attacks, with only one short burst from the second attacker being seen and then the jets were lost to sight. VR-W resumed course.

Third Attack 21.20 hours - F/S A.M. Dennis - F/S B.K. Dwyer KB851

The same tactics were again applied against the gunners of KB851, this time the two gunners were able to drive off the attackers with just short bursts. No hits were claimed on the jet fighters and the Lancaster also had no hits fom either attacks.

419 Squadron Losses

The crew of KB851 were fortunate, in the three attacks by at least five jets they had escaped with no damage reported. Two other crews did not fare as well.
The crew of KB814 were shot down during this same operation. Four of her crew were killed while the others evaded capture. The air defences of the Luftwaffe over Hagen had many types of fighters in the air , no mention of what it was that brought down their aircraft shows in the reports of the evaders filed on their return to the UK.
KB870 lost three of her crew while the others received a range of injuries. The injured were treated at a US Military hospital and later flown back to the UK.
The description of their attackers only mentions night fighters, there is no mention of whether it was the actions of the new jet fighters or not.

March 31 - Hamburg - Large Formations of Me262s

The shipyards of Blohm ad Voss where new types of U-boats were being assembled was to be the target of the 469 bombers. The dense cloud cover prevented the success of the operation. The 10/10 cloud cover did not deter however the Luftwaffe's latest advancement in fighters from appearing in large numbers to defend the Hanover area. For the previous thirteen day-light operations over Germany the bombers had not been attacked by enemy fighters, with only from ground defences for the crews to content with.
The question on most minds each day was will they come up today?
The first wave of bombers reported that they were "well guarded" by the escorting fighters. The last gaggle made up of Canadian Lancasters was ten minutes late reaching the target area. The main force had already left and so had the fighter escort. There was estimated to have been thirty Me262 aircraft involved in the attacks on the formations. Using their high speed and heavy 30mm cannons, to pick out stragglers and freely weave through the formations that now had lost the advantage of having a fighter escort.
For the relatively short time, measured in real time in minutes but feeling much longer, these bombers were involved in 78 encounters with the jets, and 28 crews had combat with one or more with the jet fighters.

The pilots log for VR-B shows a short factual entry, the debriefing of the returning crews would divulge more details. The Intelligence Officer and his staff would interview each crew as they arrived back at the Briefing Room. Filtering out what they felt HQ should hear about and deciding if an encounter should be fully documented in a Combat Report. Not all combat events were written up, it was up to Intelligence to decide. The one thing that did stand out was that the gunners proved was that speed did not help protect the jet fighters fully. Four Me262 aircraft were shot down and three more were recorded as probables for the operation.

419 Losses

Eight Lancasters and three Halifax were reported as being lost to these assaults.
Two from 419 squadron were reported lost to the jet fighters, KB869 and KB761. What has come to light later was that KB761 was lost later then the air battle over Hamburg.
The Story and Crew of KB761
What Really Happened to the Crew of KB761
The Story and Crew of KB869

March 31 - Combat Reports

The Combat Report of 419 Squadron gunners was prepared in a different manner then seen before all five combats were presented on one report, with only short narratives of the actions, rather then the fuller more detailed reports completed on missions up to this one.

Combat Report-VR-N -KB857

The crew were:
Pilot F/O M.F. Martin
Navigator F/O T.F. Hodgson
Bomb Aimer Sgt. G.K. Stevenson
WAG F/O D.D. Keir
F/E Sgt. Lezer
M/UG Sgt. R.D. Studholme
R/G F/O C.W. Nicholson

Combat Report-VR-I -KB878

The crew were:
Pilot F/L H.W. Collard
Navigator F/O A Osenenko
Bomb Aimer WO D.S. McLean
WAG P/O C.T. Sutter
F/E Sgt. J. Norman
M/UG F/Sgt. H.L. Coville
R/G F/Sgt. C.J. Maurer

Combat Report-VR-F -KB783

The crew were:
Pilot F/O J.M. Horner
Navigator F/O W.R. Estabrooks
Bomb Aimer F/O W.J. O'Brien
WAG WO W.W. Allard
F/E Sgt. B.T. Steele
M/UG Sgt. C.A. Parker
R/G F/Sgt. J.A. Westbury

Combat Report-VR-O -KB748

The crew were:
Pilot F/L W.T. Manning
Navigator F/O R.L. McMahon
Bomb Aimer Sgt. L.E. Bainard
WAG F/Sgt. K.A. Spratt
F/E Sgt. K. Renfry
M/UG Sgt. G.H. Murr
R/G WO W.P. McDowall

Combat Report-VR-W -KB851

The crew were:
Pilot F/O D.B.R. Lambroughton
Navigator F/Sgt. J.B. Rowbottom
Bomb Aimer F/Sgt.J.C. McCallum
WAG F/Sgt. J.F. Henry
F/E Sgt. M.J. Wise
M/UG FSgt. B.K. Dwyer
R/G F/Sgt. A.M. Dennis